Moo York, Moo York

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Cows of all different kinds are popping up in New York, but it's all for the sake of art and charity.

Cow Parade 2000 is a summer-long art exhibit in New York City, consisting of 500 life-sized Fiberglas cow sculptures decorated by various artists and displayed throughout the city. About a dozen of them were on display outside The Early Show studio on Tuesday.

Each cow, sponsored at a cost of $7,500, will reside somewhere in New York City for the summer. After Labor Day, the cows will be sold at auction, with proceeds going to charities that benefit children, education and New York City Parks. The live auction, plus an on-line auction, are expected to raise millions of dollars for charity.

Professional and amateur artists submitted more than 1,200 designs, which were presented to sponsors for possible production. Some sponsors directly commissioned designs from the artists of their choice.

Tom Christopher, one of the exhibit's commissioned artists, is a classically trained artist with work currently on display at the Finlay gallery on New York's Madison Avenue. He is also responsible for the mural painted on the Roseland building near Times Square. He's most recognized for his interpretations of New York City street scenes.

Christopher said he hopes the exhibit will bring more people to the art world by bringing the art to the people.

"Most of it will be right out on the streets and not in the museums. So 80 percent of the people in New York will get to see some of this," Christopher explained. "I just think the city needs some good art, too. We've had enough of the controversial stuff."

He was referring to Brooklyn Museum exhibit that featured a cow sawed in half and a dung-stained painting of the Virgin Mary. "Not everything has to be controversial," he said, adding that Cow Parade "is a family friendly exhibit that everyone can appreciate."

For New York, Christopher painted a cow, inspired by the Big Apple's flash and dash.

"It's all Times Square," Christopher said of his cow, calling it "a nightmare of noise and action and color. It's all plastered on this ancient symbol of serenity. So it's very interesting that way."

Although the Cow Parades in Zurich and Chicago were intended partly to drum up some more tourism, this is not really the case in New York. "It's first and foremost a public art event," explained Jerome Elbaum, president of Cow Parade.

The next Cow Parade city is Honolulu, scheduled for February 2001. After that, it's on to London.